Lieberman-Warner's Nuclear Subsidies Condemned


May 15, 2008

For Immediate Release

Beyond Nuclear • Environmental Working Group • Friends of the Earth • Greenpeace • Nuclear Information and Resource Service • Public Citizen

Environmental and public interest groups’ leaders urge senators not to allow billions of dollars for nuclear power in Lieberman-Warner climate change bill

WASHINGTON, DC – The leaders of six national environmental and public interest groups warned today that the impending Lieberman-Warner climate change bill could contain at least $544 billion in taxpayer subsidies for nuclear energy. This would represent the biggest federal handout in history for the nuclear industry, already the most heavily subsidized energy sector over the past 50 years.

The Lieberman-Warner bill is expected to be on the Senate floor in early June. According to an analysis conducted by Friends of the Earth, the bill contains close to half a trillion dollars that can be accessed by the nuclear energy industry under a vaguely entitled category for “zero and low carbon energy technologies.” Nuclear is the only energy industry that could fall under this category that does not have a specific carve elsewhere; funding for renewable energy is identified separately in the bill.

“Although the word ‘nuclear’ has been carefully omitted from the bill, it is clear that this is a covert attempt to bolster a failing nuclear power industry in the name of addressing climate change,” said Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth. “It’s time to focus on real global warming solutions like solar, wind and energy efficiency, not to further fatten the moribund nuclear calf.”

The environmental and public interest group leaders decried the bill’s record-breaking giveaway to nuclear power which would encourage new construction of nuclear plants, the least-effective way of reducing carbon emissions because of their long construction times and high costs.

"After 50 years of unresolved safety and waste disposal issues, it perplexes many Americans why Congress would support massive subsidies for the nuclear industry," said John Passacantando, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. "Nuclear power is a dirty and dangerous distraction from real global warming solutions," said Passacantando. "When both Wall Street and Warren Buffet think nuclear is a risky investment, Congress should not waste American tax dollars to further subsidize this 1950s technology."

Furthermore, the leaders stated that even while enriching the nuclear industry, the bill does not adequately reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid even the most catastrophic impacts of global warming, as identified by the scientific community.

“It’s significant that the authors of the bill tried to conceal the nuclear funding under ambiguous language,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. “Why are they hiding it? Because they know that the environmental movement in this country is serious about addressing climate change and will not tolerate a reversion to dangerous, dirty and expensive nuclear energy.”

“Taxpayers should not be asked to continue bankrolling a nuclear power industry that has never been financially or environmentally viable, especially in times of tight budgets,” said Sandra Schubert, Environmental Working Group Director of Government Affairs. “Instead, the federal government should do everything in its power to rapidly pursue clean energy solutions like solar and wind.”

Contact Information:

Beyond Nuclear: Kevin Kamps. Tel: 301.270.2209. Email: kevin@beyondnuclear.org

Environmental Working Group: Sandra Schubert. Tel: 202.667.6982. Email: sschubert@ewg.org

Friends of the Earth: Erich Pica. Tel: 202.783.7400. Email: epica@foe.org

Greenpeace: Jane Kochersperger, 202-319-2493 direct; 202-680-3798

Nuclear Information and Resource Service: Michael Mariotte. Tel: 301.270.6477. Email: nirsnet@nirs.org

Public Citizen: Tyson Slocum. Tel: 202.546.4996. Email: tslocum@citizen.org

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